After declaring for the NBA draft last April, only to eventually pull his name out at the deadline, Nick Fazekas
has come back to school in his senior year to continue working on his game. Fazekas hasnt changed his style of play much, but a few small, but important strides could go a long way in improving his stock. Hes added a bit more weight to his wiry frame, his attentiveness on the defensive end seems a bit improved, hes rebounding and shooting the ball notably better, and hes continuing to show the versatile inside-out scoring game that is the primary reason hes highly regarded as an NCAA player and NBA prospect.
Fazekas and 13th ranked Nevada havent faced too much steep competition on their schedule, but he has consistently scored almost at will in nearly all of their games this season, which has been an ongoing trend for the past three years. Fazekas hasnt dipped below double-digit scoring in any of his games, and has recorded a double-double in 13 of his 19 games this season.
In the past few years, Fazekas has evolved from a perimeter-oriented jump-shooting big man to one who now scores at least half of his points around the basket, using his skilled finesse post game to score in a variety of ways. Fazekas has two very reliable moves on the low block, one being a hook shot and the other a turnaround jumper, both of which he exhibits excellent touch on and both of which he usually can get off in the blink of an eye with ease. Despite his slight build, Fazekas doesnt have much of any problems at the collegiate level establishing position on the low block, and can hit his hook shot with decent regularity from out to five feet away from the basket, and his turnaround jumper out to 10 or 15 feet. He occasionally tries to draw contact with these moves, but predominantly will fade away on both, having the skill to consistently score without having to power his way to the basket, which he isnt consistently capable of doing anyhow. Fazekas will occasionally go around his man for a lay-up, or use a fake to make a step-through move, but the vast majority of the time he settles for the hook or jump shot.
Fazekas also has a bit of a face-up game from out to the three-point line, but as his game has progressed over the years, hes come to spend more time working with his back to the basket in the painted area. Fazekas doesnt have a very quick first step or great ball-handling abilities, but because defenders have to play him so close to respect him jump shot, he can usually get by them for a few dribbles to the basket when necessary. Hes been hitting his three-point shot with great regularity this season, shooting .475 on the year, but its only on a sample of 40 attempts, or one make a game. Despite his good shooting form, Fazekas only shot .290 from behind the arc last season. Still, its a very positive sign for NBA scouts to see him hitting 3-pointers at a near 50% clip, and something that should help ease the doubts about how his offensive game will translate to the league in a more complimentary role.
Fazekas has a consistent motor on the offensive end, always working to get open without the ball when he isnt trying to establish position in the post. Though he spends the most of his time trying to establish position down low, he does a good job moving to open space and utilizing screens off the ball, as well as a good job finishing on cuts to the basket or hitting spot-up shots from outside in this fashion. Fazekas also runs the floor well in transition, working to get ahead of the defense and finish on fast break opportunities. He also does a good job as a trailer, using his rebounding ability to capitalize on putback attempts.
In terms of rebounding the ball, Fazekas is doing yeomans work for Nevada this year considering his lack of bulk, establishing good inside position around the basket and using his craftiness and length to get around defenders when he doesnt have the position. He shows good touch on his putback attempts, but his lack of leaping ability sometimes leaves him falling up short on his tip-in attempts, as he rarely plays above the rim. This lack of leaping ability is not a prevalent problem with the rest of his offensive game, but when consistently matched against bigger, more athletic opponents at the next level, it may become more of a problem. Improving his rebounding numbers by 1.3 per game despite playing 3 minutes less every contest has to be considered a good sign as far as scouts are concerned, though, especially since this was always viewed as one of the biggest concerns surrounding his NBA potential. He is currently ranked as the 2nd best rebounder in the entire country.
Defensively, Fazekas seems to be more aware and active this season than in previous seasons, but he still has a long way to go. He doesnt consistently step up on weak-side rotations, likely preferring to stay out of foul trouble, and he doesnt always make the rotations at all. His perimeter defense is also still a problem due to poor lateral quickness, though he seems to be putting in more effort defending in the post.
Fazekas has done a nice job addressing many of the weaknesses in his game we pointed out as potential concerns in the scouting report we wrote on him last year. Still, question marks about the level of competition he is putting up his phenomenal numbers against remain. Making a deep run in the NCAA tournament and inevitably matching up and faring well against an NBA prospect big man or two along the way could do wonders for his stock.